The red-and-white fleet is 100% electric, air-conditioned, and equipped with Wi-Fi and USB ports. Handout.

Chinese-made electric buses are winning over commuters in Chile’s capital Santiago.

Incorporating the buses into Santiago’s transportation fleet “has been tremendously positive in many ways,” said Gloria Hutt, Chilean Minister of Transport and Communications, Xinhua reported.

“What mattered most to us was the evaluation of the passengers, which was excellent,” said Hutt, noting that commuters gave the Chinese buses an average 6.3 rating on a scale of 1-7, which surpassed Santiago’s subway.

Some 203 Chinese-made electric buses have joined the city’s transit fleet since December 2018, helping cut down air pollution and noise and reduce future public expenses, the report said.

The red-and-white fleet is 100% electric, air-conditioned, and equipped with Wi-Fi and USB ports.

Passengers “have really taken good care of them … they feel the journey is much better,” said Hutt, noting the lack of scratches and graffiti.

Incorporating Chinese-made electric buses into Santiago’s transportation fleet marked a “very radical” transformation in the quality of the capital’s mass transit system, she said.

The fleet’s operating costs are “significantly lower” than the ones powered by conventional fuel, which is expected to spur other bus operators to turn to electric vehicles. The batch also contributes to the government’s environmental goals, said the minister.

Each bus can cover 260 kilometres with a three-hour full charge, which is enough for a full day’s operation, the report said.

To accommodate the fleet’s charging capacity, the city is updating bus terminals with higher technological features such as better charging stations, according to Hutt.

Another 183 Chinese buses are due to begin operating in October, and the ministry is in talks to purchase 60 more.

Such measures are part of the city’s forward-looking Metropolitan Mobility Network, which comprises electronic buses, subways, suburban trains and a bike-sharing scheme.

The private sector in China and Chile is increasingly interested in electric mobility in Chile, which Hutt called a “gain” for the government. “More and more new brands are arriving, so we have a greater range of supply.”

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